As information slowly trickles in regarding this morning's shooting in a kindergarten class in Sandy Hook Elementary I am speechless.
My friend Chip, a pastor in Massachusetts sent out a tweet reading:
"No words for the tragedy in CT. Thankfully, God hears even our wordless prayers and is present with us in our grief." This reference to Romans 8:26 gives me comfort but it doesn't fully mend my broken heart.
How do you talk to children about such events? The Parade.com and coloradoan.com websites seemed to offer advice that I found the most helpful. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) also has a helpful pdf floating around.
1) Control the messenger. Limit exposure to media coverage and you know your child best - so let it come from you in the way they can hear it, respond, and ask questions.
2) Reinforce perceived and real safety and security. Maintain routine as much as possible. Assure your children these incidents are not common occurrences. Let them know you are safe here.
3) Talk to them. Don't answer questions they didn't ask. Ask questions to help them tell you how they feel and then validate those feelings even if you don't share them or completely understand them. And keep your conversations developmentally appropriate - the NASP form is particularly helpful with this. If your child's response is overwhelming - or seems extreme - consider talking to your child's guidance counselor at school or going to see a specialist.
4) Be present. Offer more hugs than normal if that will help your child. Help them to eat enough and get enough sleep. Offer to stay with them until they fall asleep if they need you too.
5) Take care of yourself and your needs too. You need time to grieve or mourn or express your feelings as well. You also need to eat and get sleep. If you are overwhelmed and find yourself unable to perform basic tasks consider calling Delaware's Crisis Intervention Services. (800) 652-2929 Crisis Intervention Service (CIS) staff are available 24 hours a day to assist people, 18 years and older.
I write this post praying that our camp families are well and together and safe. Hug yours a little tighter tonight and count your blessings.
peace be with you-
Straight to you from "the